If you haven't run a race in a cave, this one should be on your race list. 2019 was the 6th annual Marengo Underground 5K Run/Walk and this is the 2nd time I have participated. The race is in Marengo, Indiana, which is a very small town about 2 1/2 hours south of Indianapolis. My running club rents a charter bus and we drive down the day of the race.
There is a pre-race packet pickup the Friday night before the run and race day pickup and registration from 7:00 am - 8:30 am. Race day packet pickup is well organized and easy. This is a smaller race, with less than 1500 people. Participants do receive a t-shirt, but there are not medals at the end of the race. Early registration is $20 and later registration is $25 - $30, so not having medals probably helps keep the cost down. Participants do receive BOGO tickets for the Marengo Cave Tours in their bags. Since my group had planned to tour the caves after the race, we were excited to get the coupons.
The race doesn't start until 9:00 am, which is a little late for a summer race. It was already beginning to heat up when the race started. The first mile is outside, then you enter the cave just after mile one and miles 2 and 3 are in the cave. Participants exit the cave at mile 3 to finish the last tenth of a mile outside. In my opinion, that later start help the participants appreciate the coolness of the cave. It was about 80 degrees when the race began and the cave is 52 degrees all year.
The other negative, besides the medals, is that there are not any aid stations on the course. There are volunteers stationed throughout the course in case of an emergency, but their is not a water stop. However, there is a variety of fruit at the finish line. I never appreciated how refreshing grapes were on a hot day!
Faster runners also need to be aware that this is a family friendly race. There are several children and walkers. Children under 10 do receive a free entry. They do call serious runners to the front for the start of the race. Also, there was not a timing mat at the beginning of the race, so results are gun time.
For me, this is a fun race to do with friends. Both times I have participated, it has been with a large group. Except for the lack of water stops on the course, this race is very well organized. It wasn't even very congested at the start. I would totally recommend this race!